A week ago Monday I woke up and experienced one of those nagging feelings in the back of my mind. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was I was needing to do and it wasn’t until about 10:30am that I figured it out.
In Decatur, GA there is a locally owned bookstore named Little Shop of Stories. Little Shop of Stories held a “Graveyard Book” Halloween party this year for a competition and, along with a story in Winnipeg, they won! The reward? A Neil Gaiman book signing. And last Monday they opened up their phone lines to give away 100 tickets – 1 per each phone call.
1 1/2 hours later (and one phone death just as I’d finally gotten through), I had myself a pair of tickets. Tina and I were going to see Neil Gaiman at Agnes Scott College. I was thrilled!
So off I went, armed with my copy of The Graveyard Book. Now, I don’t know what made me think that there would only be about 200 people there (The shop had given out 100 tickets in person as well), but what a silly thing to think. The final count was 1050 (according to Gaiman). And there were children, lots of them as well!
Neil started the evening off by reading from Odd and the Frost Giants. He told us how this book came about. Apparently, in Europe, there is a National Reading Month (I couldn’t hear very well, but I think this is right). And for this celebration, the authors write a short novel, for free. The publishers publish it, for free (it must be short because that’s how much “free paper” they said they have, quipped Gaiman). The bookstores give the books out in exchange for tokens, which children get, for free. What an incredible and awesome idea.
So Gaiman began to read and everyone went silent. In his dry, “British-y” voice, the story came to life. We all giggled and were enraptured by the story.
Gaiman then answered some questions. We learned how the story of Coraline came about, and we learned of the background to The Graveyard Book. We also learned that people in the movie business are.. not all that bright (Does the Graveyard Book movie need to be set in a Graveyard?). He gave us his opinion of T.S. Eliot, he spoke on the meaning of life. He entertained us greatly for about 30 minutes.
And then he read from The Graveyard Book. And the experience was.. incredible.
Afterward, Tina and I waited with some new friends until midnight to get our books signed. He personalized each signing with a drawn graphic or a word suited to just that book. Tina’s copy of Coraline got a picture of a mouse creeping across her title page. Odd and the Frost Giants received the word “Dream”. And my copy of The Graveyard Book … well…
Some other photos from the event. Our new friend, Venessa, took these (www.venessagiunta.com) and graciously shared them with us!